If you're anything like my family, you start planning the holiday meals weeks out in advance. Everyone wants to bring the best, most impressive dish (ok, maybe that's just us, we're a bit competitive!). 

Food is a huge part of the celebration, it brings us together to give thanks and enjoy each other's company. 

Food is an integral part of the holidays.

It can also be a stressful part of the holidays. You want to enjoy all of the events, work parties, family gatherings, baking Christmas cookies, but they're all filled with temptations and you're sick of gaining weight year after year during this season. With all of the events going on focused around food, it can be a challenge. And trust me you are not alone in this.

Let's make this year different. This year you aren't going to stress. And you're certainly not going to throw all that weight loss success down the drain.

Here are 5 tips to help you enjoy the holidays without all the guilt!

1. Snack ahead of time

If you're starving before a party that has lot's of junk food, good luck resisting all those temptations! When you fill up on good healthy stuff beforehand, you aren't gonna care about all that junk, cause you feel so dang good without it.

2. Schedule your exercise

During this busy season it is so easy to put exercise on the bottom of the priority list and push it to the side. But if their is one thing that you need during all of the hustle and bustle, it is exercise! 

It's an excellent stress reliever, increases endorphins (not that you need more with all the holly jolly christmas music everywhere), and it is a must to help balance your blood sugar levels after that christmas cookie. 

To be sure to get your exercise in put it in on your calendar. And if you need to prepare your workout gear the night before. We always go for the path of least resistance, so the easier you make the more likely it will happen.

Extra tip: be sure to find something you enjoy. You won't find me at the gym, because frankly I can't stand going. But you can bet I have found some creative ways to get my heart rate up everyday at home. It doesn't have to be conventional exercise, just get moving.

3. Balance the stress

Stress eating is a real thing people. And we need to take is serious. Have you ever binged on broccoli when you were super stressed out? Yeah, I didn't think so!

 Not only does it cause us to eat more, and more of the junk, but stress also increases cortisol to increase. And increased cortisol for too long sure ain't our friend. It increases our blood sugar levels and promotes weight gain.

Find ways to relieve the stress that comes during this season. Take some time for yourself. Do some breathing exercises, meditate, journal, take a bath, use lavender essential oil, or just sit with your cup of coffee (or tea) in quiet for a few minutes. 

I know for many of you it can be hard to find even a minute for yourself. But trust me, it is so important! It doesn't have to be an hour, a few minutes throughout the day will do wonders.

4. Load up on Veggies

Veggies are full of fiber and vitamins and minerals that your body needs (uh duh). Well we know fiber helps keep you full and prevents cravings, and all those vitamins and minerals help your body to work more efficiently. So if you do happen to have a piece of pumpkin pie your body won't be too bogged down. 

Crowd out with all the good stuff. And I truly believe good begets good. Good habits create more good habits. When you treat your body well, you want to continue to treat it well!

5. Allow yourself to indulge

And be sure to enjoy it!

When you allow yourself to indulge from time to time, you are able to control the situation and are less likely to binge. 1 or 2 bites is all you need to satisfy the craving. But when we are too strict on ourselves we tend to go overboard, and often its with whatever was available, instead of something you really enjoy.

Food is meant to be enjoyed, so go ahead and enjoy it. Slow down and pay attention to the flavors and textures. Enjoy the sweetness or savoriness. 

You'll notice that's all you really wanted anyway.

6. Eat away from the serving station

When you host a party you have to be strategic about where you place the food because that is inevitably where the crowd will be. Everyone loves to gather around the food. The issue that comes with this is absentminded eating. Before long you realize you've polished off the artichoke dip without even realizing it.

Instead, fill up a small plate and move to the other side of the room. This will limit your portions and limit absentminded eating. And once you've cleaned your plate you won't feel like elbowing your way through the crowds for seconds.

7. Drink water!

When you're dehydrated you feel a false hunger causing you to eat when what your body really needs is water. And the holidays bring high sugar and salt foods, increasing your dehydration. Keep a water bottle with you wherever you go to make it easy.

Bonus: this will prevent you from gulping down the high sugar holiday drinks.

Stay healthy this holiday season. And don't stress too much. This time is meant to be enjoyed!